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Cheers to the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council for their Open Letter, “Sorrow and fury: a letter from American rabbis to President Biden.”

On January 26, the day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Rabbinical Council ran a full-page ad in newspapers including the New York Times and the Washington Post. It is an open letter to President Biden. 

It begins, “As American rabbis, we write to you with deep sorrow and fury.” And speaking to the lessons of “the genocide committed by the Nazi regime, including six million of our Jewish ancestors,” the Rabbinical Council writes,

With sorrow, we will also remember this as the time in which Israel was committing a genocide, aided and abetted by the United States. 

We are compelled to speak with moral clarity about what is happening to Palestinians at this very moment. We do so not in spite of our histories, but because of them. We know in our bones what it means to hear Israeli officials dehumanize an entire people, to witness the Israeli military mass murder tens of thousands of Palestinians, to watch Israel systematically destroy civilian infrastructure, cultural institutions, universities, and hospitals. To see Israel purposefully deny food, medicine, and shelter to refugees.

The letter ends:

If the words “Never Again” have any meaning at all, they must mean “Never Again for Anyone.” We fervently ask of you: please honor the word and spirit of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day by using your office to bring a ceasefire to this tragic violence—and to stop blocking efforts toward building a truly just peace for all who live between the river and the sea.

This letter is important, courageous, and inspiring.

Brooklyn, protest with sign Never Again For Anyone, October 28, 2023.


Brooklyn, October 28, 2023    Photo:

It is important because it tells the truth about what is going on right now. And because it collides with and helps undercut the way Israel and its defenders and the rulers of the U.S. (both liberal imperialists and anti-Semitic fascist Holocaust-deniers) invoke the Holocaust and the “interests of Jewish people” to defend Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

It is courageous because, as Raymond Lotta put it, criticism of Israel is a “third rail” in this country right now (and in the rest of the so-called “free world”) to the U.S. rulers—something that if you touch it, you will get burned or electrocuted. I’m sure the signatories from the JVP Rabbinical Council are aware of the price academics (all the way up to the former president of Harvard) have paid for failure to swear and enforce unquestioning allegiance to Israel. In that light, this letter sets an important standard.

The letter is inspiring because the interpretation of “Never Again” is spot-on right now. And I find much to embrace, not just in relation to Israel, but in relation to what humanity needs, in the assertion that “If the words ‘Never Again’ have any meaning at all, they must mean ‘Never Again for Anyone.’” Even though the JVP Rabbinical Council is coming from a different philosophical framework than Bob Avakian (BA), revolutionary leader and architect of the new communism, I see their stand on the lessons of the Holocaust as part of a wonderful tapestry that is defined and anchored by BA’s insistence that the revolution humanity needs must not be guided by revenge, but by getting to a world without oppression of any kind.

I encourage readers of to circulate the JVP Rabbinical Council’s letter, which can be found at the JVP website. And to have the backs of those who issued it.